Wednesday, October 19, 2016

High level moves with respect to Greece and Libya in early April 1941

With General Wavell's new orders for the 7th Australian Division, the Chief of the Australian General Staff had become involved. When he ordered the 18th Brigade to Tobruk, General Wavell had sent a message to General Sturdee, informing him. When General Blamey heard of the moves by General Wavell, he was upset, because he was involved in making the Greek Campaign work. The Greek Campaign needed the 7th Australian Division to give them enough strength to have a chance of success. Once the Australian government learned of Wavell's new plan, they contacted General Blamey for his opinion on the subject. The Australian government was opposed to the change in plans. General Wavell's plans were announced at the meeting in Cairo that included Anthony Eden. Anthony Eden was very nervous during the meeting and was drumming the table with his fingers. After all, Anthony Eden was the proponent of intervening in Greece and here Wavell was announcing a move that would undermine the Greek operation. He would send the bulk of the 7th Australian Division to Mersa Matruh, not Greece, as we mentioned, while the 18th Australian Brigade was sent to Tobruk. He also was going to move the 6th Division to the Western Desert. The division had been in the Nile Delta, training for a projected attack on the island of Rhodes. He also announced the appointment of General Lavarack as commander in Cyrenaica, replacing General Neame, who was now a German prisoner. General Blamey considered General Lavarack a professional rival, and when he had a chance, he would place obstacles in General Lavarack's path. General Wavell flew to Tobruk late on 8 October with General Lavarack. When Wavell tried to leave, he had aircraft problems. He was finally able to take off, but his aircraft went down in the desert with engine problems. The plane was wrecked and Wavell was out of contact. For some six hours, Wavell was down in the desert near Sollum. Fortunately, a patrol found them and took them to Sollum (the history calls it Solum). Wavell was eventually flown from Sollum in a Westland Lysander. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.

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